Yakkas: Everyday Exorcisms

Yakkas: Everyday Exorcisms is an ongoing series of paintings featuring Sri Lankan folk dancers masked as Yakkas (devils or demons) who traditionally perform in colorful and often comedic exorcism rituals to remove unseen spirits causing physical and mental ailments. In mundane American scenes from my own life, the Yakkas go about their daily lives and occasionally interact with people. The all-night ritual of Thovil (which could be described as a roast disguised as a ceremony in honor of the Yakkas) has more relevance today as tourist spectacle than for its intended purpose as an occult healing ritual, but I’m interested in the purpose they once served for communities who embraced them since pre-Buddhist times on the island. The original symbolism of the Yakkas is also used in scenes where I combine self portraiture with Yakkas who act out my own inner conflicts.

Maha Sona in the graveyard transports to the site of a ritual
The Summoning of Maha Sona
Oil on Panel
Diptych on 18″x24″ panels
2022

 

two figures sit on a padura, or straw mat in Hollywood forever cemetery eating fish and a corn-dog off a banana leaf. One is a woman and the other wears the mask of Maha-Sona the demon of the graveyard
Oil on Linen
72″x60″
2023
A woman slouches on a couch grappling with modern life as a squirrel eats the stuffing and junk mails piles up
Oil on Canvas
72″x60″
2024
A woman faces a Sri Lankan Yakka in a Los Angeles Landscape littered with weeds and trash, bright red Nasturtium and some orange-yellow California poppies
Oil on canvas
60″x72″
2022
vertical diptych of hands making an offering in a custom painted frame
The Offering
Oil on Panel,
12″x30″
A woman and a Yakka look at an Oak tree with an egg hovering inside of it, in a Los Angeles landscape with trash and native plants
Oil on Canvas
60″x72″
2022
A woman and a dog walk through a forest full of apparitions
Oil on canvas
72″x60″
2022
An imagined Sri Lankan lime squeezing purification ritual
11″x14″
Oil on panel, framed
2022
Oil painting on wood of an offering basket with a cow skull and oil lamp, with Lotus flowers on the right hand side and native California flowers on the left
The Offering II
Oil on wood
36″ Tondo
2022
A Sri Lankan Yakka driving a beat up car along a West Texas Highway. A cat is in the back seat and prickly pear cacti are visible in the foreground. Canyons are in the background.
Acrylic on canvas
60″x40″
2018

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Paintings in progress at various rough stages in the artists studio in Los Angeles

Upcoming Solo opening May 16th at Harper’s Gallery 534 W 22nd St in Chelsea, NYC

Work in Crescent Heights at Harper’s Gallery Los Angeles until April 13th

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